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I Can do WHAT? 5 Differences Between Working In Israel And The U.S.

In the middle of the airport, shortly before boarding our flight to Israel, several participants on my Birthright trip were frantically unpacking their suitcases, looking to meet the 50-pound luggage requirement to avoid exorbitant fees. I laughed, amazed at my own success: While the majority of them were returning home to the United States after the 10-day introductory trip around Israel, I was extending my stay for three months to work at a media company in Tel Aviv. It was overwhelming packing for these different experiences, but later I learned there wasn’t much crossover — and that’s just one way working in Israel greatly differs from the U.S.

Check out all articles in our Guide to Working and Interning in Israel.


Top 5 Differences Between Working In Israel And The U.S.

The dress code is casual.

You will rarely find an Israeli company policy calling for “business professional.” “Business casual” isn’t a thing, either. I interned during the summer of 2014, when the weather was scorching hot, so I was pleasantly surprised that most of the clothes I wore throughout Birthright were acceptable, including jeans, shorts, tank tops and flip-flops. Keep the look appropriate — leave more risque outfits for the nightclubs — but you’re expected to dress much more comfortably than you would at any U.S. office. And no one is judging your style.

But keep modest items at your desk or workspace.

Other areas and groups have stricter laws than secular Tel Aviv — depending on where your job takes you or what your plans are later, have a back-up outfit to be respectful and safe in other neighborhoods.

The work week is Sunday through Thursday.

In observance of Shabbat, Israel’s two-day weekend covers Friday and Saturday. It may take a few weeks to get used to setting your alarm on Saturday nights, having to get up early for work rather than for brunch.

Israelis are blunt.

It may be jarring at first to get such honesty from your boss — don’t take it personally. In fact, Top Israel Interns suggests embracing it. Israeli workplaces value directness, and vagueness often leads to misunderstanding.

Israelis appreciate work-life balance.

Most people follow typical work-week hours, but it’s not uncommon to work overtime to get everything done. However, according to a testimony in Business Insider, if it’s a beautiful day, it’s accepted to call in sick and hit the beach or take a spontaneous trip. And it means they want you to get the most out of your short time in Israel — during my internship, I was encouraged to leave as soon as the clock hit 5 or 6 p.m. (17 or 18:00, in Israel) and have fun.

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